Feeling sad from time to time is a normal part of life, but feeling crippled by your sadness on a daily basis could be a sign of something else. Depression can be overwhelming and prevent you from enjoying things you once had interest in. It affects everyone differently, but it can interfere with your daily activities, work, and life in general.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by profound feelings of sadness, isolation, hopelessness, or emptiness.

Treating depression effectively means doing more than taking medications and going to therapy. The more you change your lifestyle to ensure a healthy mind and body, the more you’ll be able to cope with the challenges of depression.

Below are some ways you can improve your lifestyle to complement your depression treatment. As always, consult with your doctor before making any changes.

Eating healthy is good for your body and will help your mood overall. The easiest way to improve your diet is to cut out junk food. A simple way to improve your diet is to limit foods high in refined sugar and saturated fats while incorporating healthier foods including:

Fatty acids

Omega-3s and omega-6s are two types of heart-healthy fatty acids. These can be found in:

  • fish
  • nuts
  • fatty fish
  • nut butters
  • avocado
  • olive oil

Branched-chain amino acids

Certain essential amino acids referred to as branched-chain amino acids are found in high-protein foods. These are:

  • valine
  • leucine
  • isoleucine

A 2021 study investigated the association between dietary BCAAs and odds of psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, and psychological distress in a large sample of Iranian adults. The study found that dietary intake of BCAAs may decrease the odds of depression and anxiety.

However, additional research is needed to confirm these results.


According to a 2020 systematic review, an increased intake of magnesium, folic acid, B6, and B12 in the diet is important in preventing depression. These micronutrients have been shown to improve mood in different populations.

Exercise increases your body’s production of natural antidepressants. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week, may increase your resilience against stressful stimuli without the use of medication. It can help:

  • reduce stress
  • improve mood
  • boost self-esteem
  • provide restful sleep

Meditation is the practice of engaging in a mental exercise, such as deep breathing or repeating a phrase or mantra, to achieve some kind of benefit. In the Buddhist tradition, the goal of meditation is spiritual enlightenment. Many modern practices focus on stress relief and relaxation.

Meditation can help relieve anxiety that sometimes accompanies depression. If depression is disrupting your sleep habits, deep-breathing techniques may help calm your mind to help you sleep better.

A common complication of depression is lack of sleep. Lying awake in bed at night with a brain that won’t calm down, or waking in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep, are common symptoms.

Fatigue from lack of sleep can add to symptoms of depression, so proper sleep is an important part of a depression treatment plan.

Develop a calming bedtime routine that can help you wind down at the end of the day, and follow a consistent sleep schedule to improve the amount and quality of sleep you get.

Depression can be alienating, and the right network of friends and loved ones can help you overcome your issues. Spend time with positive, supportive, and loving people to help you through rocky times.

Stress is a part of life, but chronic, long-term stress can be debilitating, especially for someone with depression. Stress builds upon itself, so it’s essential to combat stress with calming, soothing experiences.

Stress management is different for everyone, so you are the best person to decide which healthy activities help you. Some ideas to consider are:

  • watching your favorite movie
  • reading a good book
  • practicing a hobby
  • listening to music
  • writing in a journal
  • exercising

Depression is a serious disorder. Its symptoms of sadness and isolation can be debilitating. Depression very often requires professional treatment. The items discussed above might alleviate minor symptoms.

Stay healthy by eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep to combat depression. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of depression and if you want to make any changes to your lifestyle.